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Leadership Team


UC Environmental Stewards Team

Gregory “Greg” Ira is the UC Environmental Stewards Director, based at UC ANR in Davis, CA. His areas of interest include field-based environmental education, volunteer water quality monitoring, tools for addressing culture in environmental programs and strategic program planning. After completing his Bachelors in Environmental Studies and Masters in Asian Studies, he worked for six years in the Philippines integrating conservation into the context of rural development. In Florida, he established statewide environmental education programs for students and teachers and managed sustainable initiatives including the Florida Green Lodging program. 

Sarah-Mae Nelson leads UC Environmental Stewards’s UC Climate Stewards certification course. An educator, science communicator, and climate change interpreter, she's worked for the Monterey Bay Aquarium as a Conservation Interpreter and Online Community Manager for ClimateInterpreter.org. Sarah-Mae is an active member of the National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation (NNOCCI), sitting on one of the leadership committees.

Eliot Freutel is the Southern California Community Education Specialist (CES) for Climate Stewards and California Naturalist. Eliot's background is in language translation, informal marine science education with an emphasis on island ecology, and community climate resilience. He enjoys free-diving, backpacking and spending time outside with his kids.

Pamela Byrnes is the Bay Area-Capital Corridor Community Education Specialist (CES) for Climate Stewards and California Naturalist. As a Marine Biologist, Naturalist and Educator, Pamela has led educational programs and natural history/research trips along the California coast and internationally. Her studies focused on marine mammals, seabirds, wetlands and coastal ecosystems. She enjoys, hiking, gardening and watching wildlife. 

Karyn Utsumi serves as the Northern and Sierra/Central California Community Education Specialist (CES) for Climate Stewards and California Naturalist. With a background in environmental restoration and education, Karyn enjoys teaching people of all ages the importance of California’s unique and diverse ecology and concepts of sustainability. She enjoys nature walks, reading, and exploring new parts of California.

Jill Sarick serves as the Ventura, Santa Barbara and SLO Counties Community Education Specilalist. Early in her career, she lived and worked in the Lake Tahoe Basin as an environmental educator and relocated to southern California after the birth of her son. Since then, she has worked for a mix of local governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations promoting sustainable living and natural resource conservation. As an outdoor enthusiast, Jill finds solace and inspiration in nature.

Michelle Peeters serves as the Northern California Community Education Specialist (CES) for Climate Stewards and California Naturalist. With a diverse background in humanities, horticulture, web publishing, natural resource protection and education, she is dedicated to sharing environmental and climate literacy to assist in creating a robust community of stewardship throughout California and beyond. She enjoys lake kayaking, hiking, time with family and practicing phenology.

Academic Leadership

Lead Scientist

Dr. Cameron Barrows
Dr. Cameron Barrows
Dr. Cameron Barrows is the UC Environmental Stewards Lead Scientist and an Associate Research Ecologist with UC Riverside coordinating the Center for Conservation Biology's Desert Studies Initiative. The initiative develops risk assessments and implements regional conservation programs for desert flora, fauna and natural communities and enhances secondary level science education in surrounding schools. 

Check out Dr. Barrows's blog on natural history topics.



Affiliated Advisors

Dr. Adina Merenlender
Dr. Adina Merenlender
Dr. Adina Merenlender is a Cooperative Extension Specialist at UC Berkeley and is an internationally recognized conservation biologist working on environmental problem solving at the landscape-scale. She has published extensively on the influence of land use on biodiversity. She is dedicated to bridging the gap between conservation science and practice through community led environmental stewardship, education, and citizen science. See more at her website.



Dr. Sabrina Drill
Dr. Sabrina Drill
Dr. Sabrina Drill is the UCCE Natural Resources Advisor for Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, where she helps communities, non-profits, and government agencies manage and restore aquatic ecosystems, from snorkel surveys for endangered steelhead trout, to working with volunteers to understand fishes and fishing in the LA River. She has worked around the country, as well as in East Africa, helping communities understand and conserve natural resources.